Vatican Bank ‘investigated over money-laundering’

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The head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police sources say. 

Prosecutors also seized 23m euros ($30m; £19m) from the bank’s accounts with another smaller institution. 

The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome. 

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and astonished”, and expressed full confidence in Mr Tedeschi. 

The Vatican Bank, known officially as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), was created during World War II to administer accounts held by religious orders, cardinals, bishops and priests. 


Corporate Person runs for congress in Maryland

Via WaPo, Murray Hill, Inc, a corporate person with equal rights as breathing human beings will begin its bid to unsit Chris Van Hollen.

Murray Hill might be the perfect candidate for this political moment: young, bold, media-savvy, a Washington outsider eager to reshape the way things are done in the nation’s capital. And if these are cynical times, well, then, it’s safe to say Murray Hill is by far the most cynical.

That’s because this little upstart is, in fact, a start-up. Murray Hill is actually Murray Hill Inc., a small, five-year-old Silver Spring public relations company that is seeking office to prove a point (and perhaps get a little attention).

After the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, the self-described progressive firm took what it considers the next logical step: declaring for office.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence-peddling to achieve their goals in Washington,” the candidate, who was unavailable for an interview, said in a statement. “But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

AT&T versus Verizon

So I have been watching the AT&T and Verizon battle with interest. I have an iPhone and have an irrational hatred of AT&T. I have had connectivity issues as I have traveled and I have learned not to rely on my iPhone at crucial times. So as an iPhone user who has been forced to accept AT&T, I naturally harbor a resentment towards the company.

So it was with no small amount of pleasure that I watched Verizon smack AT&T with the map ad campaign. The map ad is the Verizon ad that shows maps of 3G coverage. The AT&T map shows coverage spots in blue and it is a sorry-looking map of the U.S. Then there’s the Verizon map which is a sea of red. Showing major coverage. The map ad was so good that AT&T reportedly sued to get Verizon to take it down and the suit failed.

Here’s one of the map ads.

Now this is where it gets interesting. AT&T fought back with its own ads. First, recall that ATT had these funny ads with the family and expired minutes. The ads had a Cingular wireless orangey theme. These ads feature a family with a dad and two sons and a mom who keeps trying to get them to use their old minutes because they don’t expire. I thought those ads were good, but I don’t think they stuck as ATT ads.

So with the Verizon map ads, it looked like ATT first came out with a new series of ads featuring a young hippish guy standing between stacks of these “orange” expired minutes. It seemed to me that they were clearly trying to make a connection with the previous series of ads. Smart move. These are the ads where the cool guy is throwing things around a map to show the extent of AT&T coverage. Clever, because the maps were about 3G coverage which is more a data thing I guess. So they first had to establish that you do get regular phone coverage everywhere.

They then began to counter the Verizon map ads with the quality not quantity approach. So the idea is that your 3G connection is incredibly better with AT&T when you do in fact get it. Now as an ATT customer, those hit home. so I now begin to think that even though my data coverage can be spotty in areas,  I may have better quality. I do use multiple apps and data, etc.

So as a AT&T-hating customer, I have to say that Verizon stoked my hatred, but ATT succeeded in mollifying me. What I find wierd is that Verizon seemed to let up when AT&T struck back. You think that a corporation that size would have a killer instinct and destroy the competition when they have them on the ropes. I have to say that if Apple ever gets out of that contract with AT&T I am jumping ship so fast–like a bat out of hell. Anyway, back to the wireless fight, I’ll call this one a draw. Verizon succeeded in creating doubt and forcing a narrative about AT&T, but AT&T successfully fought back. Nonetheless, they have been defined by Verizon’s narrative.

Fidelity Fires Employess for Playing Fantasy Football

Via Huffington Post, Fidelity fired 4 employees for playing fantasy football.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that four workers at Fidelity Investments have been fired for playing fantasy football. The company bans fantasy football at the office, but one of the fired workers, Eric Pettigrew, says managers disregarded the policy.

Pettigrew told the paper that Fidelity “interrogated me as though I was some sort of international gambling kingpin.” The next day, he says he was fired without warning or a pay cut.

Andy Behrens at Yahoo! Sports refutes a Fidelity spokesman who alleges that the ex-employees were gambling:

Tiger Woods, Accenture and the Anatomy of Succesful Press Release

So accenture has discontinued its sponsorship relationship with Tiger Woods. Here is the press release:

NEW YORK; Dec. 13, 2009 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN) today announced that it will not continue its sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods.

For the past six years, Accenture and Tiger Woods have had a very successful sponsorship arrangement and his achievements on the golf course have been a powerful metaphor for business success in Accenture’s advertising. However, given the circumstances of the last two weeks, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising. Accenture said that it wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family.

Accenture will continue to leverage its “High Performance Business” strategy and “High Performance Delivered” positioning in the marketplace. The company will immediately transition to a new advertising campaign, with a major effort scheduled to launch later in 2010.

Nike ,on the other hand, according to Reuters  is not dropping Tiger. In fact Nike Chairman Phil Knight says “it’s all part of the game” when dealing with athletes. For instance, there was Kobe Bryant’s alleged rape issue. Nike has learned that with athletes, wait it out and the public is pretty forgiving.

What I found interesting was Accenture’s press release. I really liked how they phrased things. Now Accenture is a global consulting firm. I think they do finance, tech, and a bunch of things. They used to be a part of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm, so think men in white short sleeves, glasses, pencils and ledgers. So, if you’d ever seen those accenture ads, they were usually somewhat expansive, wide open space, with the prominent figure of Tiger Woods on the greens focused and studying the greens before his par shot. The ads were good. You felt open about Accenture. You did not feel that they were stodgy or closed in, but open to possibilities, yet competently focused on accomplishing a goal (Tiger for par). So I think Tiger’s image was very useful in giving them a contemporary edgy image.

Now, with the Tiger scandal, the slow trickle of bad news, and Tiger’s indefinite leave of absence from golf, Tiger sponsors then had to make the decision if they would stick with him or drop him.  For sports outfits, the Michael Phelps drug scandal was probably instructive. Phelps recovered from that and shouldn’t have problems with sponsorships going forward. So sport related companies have nothing to gain by dropping Tiger. However, for a company like Accenture, it is a different ball game. They are not a sports company. In fact the Tiger image was what they describe as “a powerful metaphor for business success.” So Accenture is betting that they can switch metaphors if needed and proceed.

About their press release, what I like is that they initially recognize the mutually beneficial relationship. This absolves them from any perceptions of sanctimoniusness, i.e., we are dropping Tiger because we are holier than thou. They agree, he made money, we leveraged his image to improve our brand, now his image no longer fits our brand. The language is very positive and forward-looking. I just flat-out loved how they handled it. It is the transparency of motives that makes this press release very successful. As for their new advertising campaign, one has to wonder if they had a plan B all along. Did they know what Tiger was like in his spare time and did they have potential replacement advertising campaigns in the wings? Who knows. It would interesting to watch.